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03 February 2012 @ 11:15 pm
Love and Marriage in Saskatchewan  
Explosion of Love

Love and Marriage

The province of Saskatchewan, Canada is a melting pot of many ethnic cultures and people of diverse backgrounds. Weddings were a community event. The marriage ceremony established pride in an immigrant's new home and community as well as preserving an important religious rite.

Amidst the several varied ethnic bloc settlements a variety of cultural practices were followed. For instance, a mother-in-law may arrive with wedding cakes and roast pork for the bride's family in the traditional practice of a Chinese wedding. The English squire and fiance would celebrate an aristocratic wedding at the Cannington manor (1882-1900) assembling English "Gentlefolk" together for an upper class Victorian celebration.

Women would wear a wedding dress that could be used again, and for this purpose, white was not a common colour before the 1950s. An olive or a brown brocade would have been a practical choice.

A common practice following the marriage solemnization would be a meal served up by the Church's Ladies Aid organization. At times, these weddings would be joint ceremonies celebrating the union of more than one couple. A decorated wedding cake would be sliced and served at the following dinner, and wedding guests could take home a piece of wedding fruit cake.

Aboriginal peoples would also hold a celebratory wedding feast. The Hudson Bay Company employees taking an aboriginal woman as a wife impacted both HBC and the resulting Metis communities. The weddings at first banned by the HBC took part in the fashion of the country, à la façon du pays, and later they were presided over by the HBC factor. Native traditions required a gift or bride price given by the groom to the family of the bride.

In other cultures money, goods, or land may be part of the dowry which the bride brings to the marriage. As women could not own property and land entitlements from her family passed to the control of her husband in the early 1900s. Not only could the wife not own land, nor apply for a homestead she had no dower law rights at all.

When looking for an ancestor's marriage license remember to look in the location of the wedding and not the ensuing place of habitation. Immigrants traveling to Canada may have been united by Ship captains, and it would be prudent to check the ship logs for any marriages which took place during travel.

Following a marriage in the early 1900s the couple may apply for a quarter section of land and set about proving up their homestead. Early sod houses were the first residences for many equipped with hand made furniture, wood stove, coal-oil lamps, and candles. The tale is often told of a young immigrant couple marrying in the old land, and the husband travels to Canada, the "Last Best West" first. After he applies for a homestead, and makes ready a residence and gets the first crop off the field for market, the wife and children follow him to the new country.

A genealogist will surely value the family Bible where records of family marriages and births may be recorded. Historically families may have sent out announcements regarding a pending marriage, which were the precursors to the current marriage invitation. A picture or annoucement of the engagement of marriage may also be run in the local newspaper. Additionally, the announcement of a diamond or golden wedding anniversary also serves to records the wedding date. A family collection or photo album of photographs may record the date and names on the reverse of the picture.

The information Services Corporation (ISC) will begin work transcribing into their online searchable database Marriages which were registered with Saskatchewan Vital Statistics more than 75 years ago when they have finished updated their death database. A certifed copy of the marriage event may also be ordered from ISC by family members for genealogical purposes. Marriage certificates usually document the marriage date; names of the betrothed, their occupation and address; parent names and witness names. The ISC may not be of assistance to First Nations people as their records traditionally are kept in the Federal Government archives.

The information Services Corporation (ISC) is no longer handling the birth marriage and death certificates. Vital Statistics are handled once again by the Ministry of Health (eHealth) .

Saskatchewan Gen Web also records URL links to church records for weddings solemnized through a religious denomination, and court records in the case of Civil Registration of a wedding. For instance, The United Church of Canada Archives
The United Church of Canada Archives holds microfilm of the historical records (pre 1925) for The United Church of Canada, The Methodist Church (Canada), The Presbyterian Church in Canada, The Congregational Union of Canada, Local Union Churches, and the Canada Conference of the Evangelical United Brethren Church. Saskatchewan provincial archives holds some early church records, however they may need to be accessed by first contacting the church office.

Another source of marriage information are transcribed books published recording marriage announcements from the Biggar newspaper "The Independent" 1913-1920, the Regina newspapers 1883-1916, the Der Mennonitische immigrantenbote, and Der Bote 1971-1980, and Saskatoon newspapers for the time span 1902-1907.

Remember to also check newspapers for obituary listings which usally list surviving family members, and those direct family members who pre-deceased the person listed in the obituary. Cemetery records and photographs of family tombstones also go a long way in determining marital status and names.

The 1901, 1906, 1911 census have been transcribed online and the 1901, 1906, 1911, and 1916 census are digitised at the National Archives. The census lists all family members with the householder listed as person one and any other persons living at that address are listed with their relationship to the householder.

In Saskatchewan, the Saskatchewan Resident's Index (the index now searchable online) was compiled by the Saskatchewan Genealogy Society. The SRI indexes obituaries as well as local history / family biography books written in the majority of Saskatchewan communities. The biographies given in these books often supply family relationships and the names of faily members.

Accessing a wide variety of sources to obtain the marriage record provides the main resource to uncover the female ancestor's maiden name. Officially couples were required to register their marriage in 1905 when Saskatchewan became a province. Historic civic records of the North West Territories may be held at the Saskatchewan provincial archives, or in the case of the First Nations at the Federal archives, the Glenbow archives or the Hudson Bay Archives. Name changes had to be registered with Vital Statistics and were subsequently published in The Saskatchewan Gazette. D'Arcy Hinde published a book (Changes of name : The Saskatchewan gazette, 1917 to 1950.) of early name changes. Be aware if the family name changed before the marriage - perhaps changing a European surname to an anglicized version on immigration or by an immigration official.

The location often resolves a conflict of finding more than one possible marriage. However, couples may indeed have re-married after divorce or the early death of a spouse resulting in another marriage record.

"Love and marriage. Love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage." As with all genealogy research start from the known and work towards the unknown. Keep track of all sources researched, the positive leads and the dead ends to save time in the future and to not retread in past footsteps. Searching for marriage records can be an intriguing way to unite the ancestors in a family tree, and discover new branches.

Namaste and anahata.

Image: Explosion of Love

"There is in every human heart
Some not completely barren part,
Where seeds of truth and love might grow,
And flowers of generous virtue flow;
To plant, to watch, to water there,
This be our duty, be our care."

-Sir John Bowring

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Previous Posst: The Era of Saskatchewan One Room School Houses.

More information on researching Marriage Certificates in Saskatchewan.


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